Does smoking affect sleep as much as it is believed? Short answer: Yes.
Many smokers overlook the effect that a smoking habit has on their sleep quality. While the effects of smoking are varied, a lot of people don’t realize the damage it causes to your sleep characteristics.
The key to a good night’s sleep is consistency and anything that sleep disturbance that interrupts sleep patterns can cause issues. A nicotine withdrawal is a good example of that.
However, that is only one of the ways smoking can affect your sleep schedule. Read on to learn the seven critical ways that smoking destroys sleep for cigarette smokers.
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How Does Smoking Affect Sleep? 7 Sleep Issues Caused by Smoking
There’s a strong association between sleep and cigarette smokers.
The effects of nicotine on sleep can be detrimental for you since they can keep you from getting a full night of restful sleep.
To sleep better at night, it is always best to stray away from habits that affect your body in drastic ways, such as drugs, alcohol, and, you guessed it, smoking.
1. Smoking reduces sleep quality
Studies suggest that people who suffer from nicotine withdrawal have a poorer sleep quality than the average person.
For cigarette smokers, the sleep cycle is affected by the effects of each smoking craving throughout the night, reducing sleep efficiency. Unfortunately, the withdrawal symptoms lurk below the surface at night, interrupting your REM sleep.
When talking about quality sleep, we have to take into account that everybody is different. What for some constitutes poor sleep quality, for others, is even poorer sleep quality. The subjective quality of sleep can make it difficult to figure out stuff like sleep efficiency or the overall impact that cigarettes have when isolated from other factors like diet.
It’s clear that smoking causes poor sleep quality. Cigarette smokers will find that they struggle to get restorative sleep as withdrawals affect their ability to reach deep sleep each night.
2. Smoking makes you less of a morning person
According to this peer-reviewed journal, there’s a direct relationship between smoking and behaviors that contribute to inadequate active sleep.
A heavy smoker is at a higher risk of poorer sleep quality than those who smoke occasionally or have stopped smoking altogether. This is because heavy smoking affects the circadian rhythm, interrupting our natural clock from functioning correctly and thus resulting in poor sleep quality.
Bad sleep also seems to be genetically linked to people who are more prone to smoking, and there’s an indication that insomnia seems to be prevalent in heavy smokers and hampers smoking cessation. This can potentially create a cycle that’s difficult to pull away from.
Due to this disruption in the circadian clock, smokers tend to wake up more, reducing sleep efficiency. This causes sleep inertia in the mornings, which makes a heavy smoker less of a morning person.
3. Sleep duration and smoking have a two-way relationship
This study shows a direct relationship between smoking and sleep deficit.
The study examined sleep duration and smoking status among adolescents and young adults. The results found that doses of nicotine affect the natural sleep cycle, causing a shorter sleep period thanks to one of the main effects of nicotine: alertness.
Since their sleep period time is affected, individuals who smoke often experience restless sleep, causing them to consume more cigarettes per day to stay alert. In layman’s terms, the effects of nicotine create a seemingly endless cycle where the more you smoke, the shorter your sleep duration, and the shorter your sleep duration, the more you smoke.
4. Nicotine consumption makes it harder to fall asleep
Peer-reviewed studies examining the relationship between smoking and sleep difficulties in adolescents have revealed that doses of nicotine affect your ability to fall asleep. Researchers were even able to predict insomnia-like sleep impairments in participants based on the prevalence of smoking.
Looking at individual smoking habits, results show that having a cigarette several hours before bed might lead to a smoking craving around bedtime. This interferes with a person’s sleep latency, taking them longer to fall asleep and disrupting their internal natural clock.
5. Smokers experience more sleep disturbances
Sleep disturbance is more prevalent in smokers.
According to sleep researchers, people who smoke cigarettes tend to experience sleepiness during the day and have less total sleep time. Sleep disturbances seem to be caused by the influence that nicotine has during the different stages of sleep.
During the night, your body goes through a series of sleep patterns that are divided into different sleep stages. One of them is the slow-wave sleep stage, the deepest sleep stage that occurs right before rapid eye movement sleep. According to the study, smokers tend to experience sleep disruption during this stage, which constitutes the main cause of disturbances in sleep. This causes less slow-wave sleep and more REM sleep.
Consequently, the basic structure that constitutes the stages of sleep, otherwise called sleep architecture, is disturbed by constant interruptions. This causes sleep fragmentation.
These sleep disturbances can negatively impact the health of people afflicted, especially those who have a light sleep.
6. Smoking makes you sleepier in the daytime
Previous studies have revealed the dire effects of smoking on sleep and how there’s a direct correlation between disturbances in sleep and people who smoke.
Sleep in smokers tends to be shorter compared to the average person. With fewer overall hours of sleep, it is not much of a surprise that people who smoke suffer from poor sleep quality. Disruption of sleep is more prominent in heavy smokers, also resulting in even poorer sleep quality.
One of the main consequences of not sleeping well is daytime sleepiness. Since conditions like insomnia seem to increase the possibility of smoking heaviness and hamper cessation, there have been debates about focusing on improved sleep as a potential smoking treatment.
7. Smoking makes obstructive sleep apnea worse
Smoking has been linked to several sleep disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep condition in which breathing stops involuntarily for brief periods of time throughout the night.
Associations between smoking and sleep apnea have been well documented to the point where smoking is considered a common risk factor for sleep apnea, the same way it is for cardiovascular disease.
The results of this study revealed that smokers indeed have a higher apnea-hypopnea index, lower levels of oxygenation during sleep, and higher daytime sleepiness.
So, if you’re still asking yourself: does smoking affect sleep? The answer is a resounding yes.
Cigarette smoke by itself is already bad for your health, affecting your lungs, increasing the risk of heart disease, and plenty of other health issues. On top of that, this habit creates an endless cycle of poor sleep.
The health benefits from quitting smoking are unbelievable, with improvements in sleep coming top of the list. If you’d like to improve your quality of sleep, try a cessation treatment like nicotine gum to help you give up cigarette smoking.
Welcome to Snoozerville! I’m Dr. Alex Hartley, your guide to the world of restful sleep. With a Ph.D. in Sleep Science and years of experience as a sleep therapist, I’ve dedicated my life to understanding and improving sleep quality. My passion lies in uncovering the mysteries of sleep and sharing practical, science-backed advice to help you achieve the best rest possible. Beyond my academic pursuits, I’m an advocate for mindfulness and relaxation techniques, which I incorporate into my daily routine. At Snoozerville, I aim to transform your nights, combining the latest research with easy-to-implement tips. Whether you’re a chronic insomniac or just looking to improve your sleep hygiene, join me on this journey towards peaceful, rejuvenating sleep.